Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weekly Geeks and a Few Random Things

OK Chris, you were wrong. You weren't the last person to blog about this....I am!! Dewey, from The Hidden Side of the Leaf, has come up with a blogging Challenge called The Weekly Geeks. It's such a fun idea. She always has the best ones. The Weekly Geeks will have a weekly theme, and as a member, you have to blog about it.

This week's theme is Discover New Blog Week. Sounds easy enough. Check through the list of participants and visit blogs that are new to you. Then I noticed there are over 100 participants. Not quite as easy as I had originally thought....but it is a whole lot of fun!! I spent hours yesterday going through new and relatively new-to-me blogs and I found some great ones. Here are just a few:

Book Addiction is a brand new-to-me blog. Heather is a fairly new blogger, but she's dug in pretty well. Lots of great book reviews and lots of challenges. Sounds like a blog to add to my blogroll!

The Inside Cover is such a great blog! You can certainly tell Rebecca is a writer by trade, because she has a wonderful way with words. Stylish and sharp, her blog is chocked full of reviews, book news and book related topics. She is also starting on online book club that looks like a lot of fun!

Passion for the Page is written by Kristi in Florida. The first thing you notice when you log in to her blog is the BEAUTIFUL header. I think she likes Roses!! Once you get past that, there are some super book reviews. I also think she is a kindred spirit, since it looks like she has joined as many reading challenges as I have!!

Tiny Little Reading Room is written by the Tiny Little Librarian. Since I love libraries, she's all right in my book! Another kindred Spirit, she is in lots of reading challenges, used VAMPIRES as her theme for the Themed reading challenge, and has a Pooh quiz on her blog. I think we might be related!!

Bookworms and Tea Lovers is a very pretty site! Samantha lives in the Netherlands and loves books!! She's in various reading challenges and has lots of wonderful book reviews. This is another blog that's going right to my blogroll!

Reader Rabbit is a blog written by two sisters who love to read. The first thing I noticed was the fantasy books they were reading. Be Still My Heart!! With lots of challenges and great reviews, I'll definitely be visiting again!

Those are just a few of the great blogs I have found as a part of the Weekly Geeks. This is definitely going to be a fun ride!!

In other news, I went to the doctor yesterday. And as I feared, it's definitely a rotator cuff injury, although we aren't sure how bad it is yet. It's either just a strain, a small tear, or it could be something a little worse. Most likely, I'll be able to fix it with steroid injections (OUCH). Worst case scenario, I'll have to have surgery. They got me right in for an MRI. I definitely don't recommend one if you are squeamish about small, tight places. It took all I had not to totally freak out! I go back next Monday for the results. Let's hope for the best, shall we??

Finally, Andi from Tripping Toward Lucidity sent me an email yesterday. I won her copy of The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming. I'm really excited about this. Global Warming is another one of those Hot-Button issues with me. I'm all about saving the Planet!! So THANKS Andi!! I can not wait to read this one....and then I can pass it along to someone else. Every little bit counts, you know!!

Till Later!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pages Full of Magic

A few years ago, I picked up a book that changed my reading forever. It was called The Little Country and it was written by Charles de Lint. It was about the power of music and the magic it creates. And it was also a fantasy book. Charles de Lint opened up a new world to me. A world of Fantasy literature, and I fell in love immediately.

For Carl's Once Upon a Time II Challenge, we are asked to take a step back from reality and open ourselves up to a little fantasy. Who better to read than Charles de Lint for a little fantasy, right? The man that originally opened up this world to me. So under the heading of "mythic fantasy" I chose Memory and Dream by de Lint (400 pgs, Orb Books), one of his Newford Books. And where The Little Country dealt with music and magic, Memory and Dream focuses on art and magic.

"Katherine Mully had been dead for five years and two months, the morning Isabelle received the letter from her." Now that's a great way to start a novel!! Isabelle Copely and Katherine Mully were college roommates. Not just roommates, but best friends and kindred spirits. Izzy was an art major and Kathy was a writer. They lived in a Bohemian style section of Newford, where the arts are celebrated and life was good. Until Izzy met Vincent Rushkin, one of the greatest artists to ever hail from Newford. His work was celebrated, although the artist himself was somewhat of a recluse. But when he met Izzy, he offered up his expertise and took her on as a protege.

Although a brilliant artist, Rushkin was prone to fits of rage.....mostly taken out on Izzy. He was always critical of her. Never accepting anything that he deemed unworthy. One minute he would be incredibly sweet, and then out of nowhere, he would completely lose control and become violent. But from her perspective, the pros definitely outweighed the cons because Ruskin's instruction was enhancing her art to new levels.

But when Ruskin tells Izzy the secret about her art, things change. One of the things that Ruskin had seen in Izzy was her ability to become a "maker". If Izzy put her spirit into her paintings, she could bring the subject to life. Her paintings were the gateway from "the other".....the spirits that she would paint could physically manifest themselves into the real world.

""And it's just people that come across?" Izzy asked.
"Beings," Ruskin said. "Yes. However, they won't necessarily seem like people. They have the same source as legend and myth, Isabelle. When the ancients first made their paintings and sculptures of marvelous beings -- dryads and satyrs, angels and dragons -- they were not rendering things they had seen. Rather they were bringing them into being. Not all of them, of course. Only those with the gift.""

And Izzy DID bring across some beings. Only Kathy knew the secret of Izzy's work. As a writer, she understood the concept. But when things fell apart, Izzy exiled herself to her family's home on Wren Island. Kathy's death a few years later caused even more division between Izzy and her old friends and lifestyle. But when Alan, an old friend from the past, wants Izzy to illustrate a new book containing some of Kathy's unpublished work, the past and the present come together in a way that no one could have predicted.

This story moves flawlessly between the past and the present. Each section gives just enough information to keep the reader constantly wanting to know more. Izzy's ability as a maker has changed her in so many ways, leaving her responsible for the lives her numena, the name she has given to the spirits she brings across. They are frightened of Rushkin, the "dark man". A man they consider a monster, who feeds on them to sustain his own life. But Izzy can't seem to reconcile her feelings towards him, and certainly doesn't think he is a monster.

This book is about memories that aren't always real, but dreams that can be. It's about magic and art, and the intertwining of the two. And it's about love and friendship....two things a person should never be without. Charles de Lint is a genius at opening a world in which all things are possible. His writings flows from page to page with ease. And from page one, I was completely under his spell. De Lint is a master storyteller in every sense of the word. His characters are incredibly deep and well-written. Each one is flawed just enough to seem completely real.

But what I loved most about this book was the idea that magic can really exist in the world today. When real life seems to be bogged down with so many problems and concerns, all you have to do is open a book by de Lint to see that magic really exists. If not in our heads, but in our hearts. I recommend this book 100 percent. It is beautifully written and it's a little piece of magic all by itself. 5/5

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Springing - Booking Through Thursday

Well, here where I live, Spring is sprung–weeks early, even. Our lilac bush looks like it will have flowers by this time next week instead of in the middle of May as usual. The dogwood trees, the magnolia trees–all the flowering trees are flowering. The daffodils and crocuses are, if anything, starting to fade. It may only be April 24th but it is very definitely Spring and, allergies notwithstanding, I’m happy to welcome the change of season. What I want to know, is:

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

It's been a few weeks since I've done a "Booking Through Thursday" so here goes: Spring is here, if only momentarily. The forecast for the weekend is only in the 50's....with the lows in the 30's. Boo! But the past few days, it's been beautiful, albeit a little on the rainy side.

My reading habits don't usually change with the seasons. I'm one of those people that tend to follow my own path. I will pick up whatever book seems to interest me that day regardless of the season or the weather. I don't garden.....and if I did, I highly doubt I would be reading gardening books anyway!!

The possible exception to this is when I go on vacation. I always pack books to take with me when I travel. (It's the most important packing I do!) And I usually tend to bring books that are lighter, quicker reads. I guess if I ever go any place that's really exciting and adventurous, I might read up on the city. But so far, Disney World is about as exotic as it gets with us!!

Happy Thursday!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Random Thoughts and some Short Stories

Sheesh. It kind of feels like I dropped off the face of the earth!! Things have been rather crazy lately....starting with last week's earthquake. Who would have thought I would feel an earthquake? I mean, I live in Illinois! Of course, I did know there was a fault line 'down' there (West Salem is about 3 1/2 hours South of me). But never thought I would actually feel the earth move like that!! At 4:37 am, I was actually awake...and at work!! The tables started shaking, and things were rattling. Kind of creepy!!

On the downside of things, I have an appointment next week with an orthopedic surgeon. I think I might have torn my rotator cuff. Bummer. Being the incredible klutz that I am, I fell about a month and a half ago. I tried to catch myself. Bad move on my part. My shoulder has been KILLING me ever since. It's so bad some days, I can barely lift my arm. The deciding factor was when I tried pitching to the girlies. Softball practice has started, and I love to get out there and play with them. I hurt so bad by the time it was done, I had to lay down. So....I finally figured it was time to go see a doctor. Not sure what they can do about it....but in the meantime, I do have a wonderful prescription of pain killers!!

Busy, busy, busy with work....softball practices (for both girls) and Ana has soccer games now. At least the weather is looking up. High today is 78!!

Although I missed Short Story Monday (and even Tuesday!) I decided I would still post my thoughts on a few more of Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts stories. (Man...if you didn't know Joe Hill was Stephen King's son, all you have to do is look at this picture. He's the spitting image of Uncle Steve!)

You Will Hear the Locusts Sing is the story about an 18-year-old boy that wakes up and has turned into a bug!! And not just any bug, but a giant, scary, flying cockroach!! Although the story is reminiscent of Kafka's Metamorphosis, there is a lot more to it than that. Francis lives in Arizona, where testing of Atomic bombs have taken place. It's a good story about a boy that was alienated at school and picked on. And what he does when he gets the chance to fight a bug. Kind of Kafka meets Columbine!!

Abraham's Boys is a wonderful story that does a bit of retelling of the old Dracula legend. But it doesn't focus on the vampire, but the vampire hunter: Van Helsing. Abraham Van Helsing is now living in America with his two sons, Maximilian and Rudolph. Their mother (Mina Harker) has passed away and they had to "run" to America because of a scandal created by Van Helsing's insistence of the vampire tales. He is not a kind man. Rather he is mean, over-bearing and set in his ways. He insists the boys be home before dark, and has a study that is under lock and key. When the boys stumble into the study one day, a picture is found that puts the vampire story into perspective. But what I really liked is the idea that maybe vampires DON'T exist.....maybe Van Helsing is just plain insane!!

Finally, Better Than Home is not a ghost story at all. It's about the coach of a Major League Baseball team from New England (hmmm..could we talking about the Red Sox here?) and his son, Homer. Homer is really young, but has a lot of issues. He is afraid of lots of different kinds of food, certain noises drive him batty, and he's a little on the OCD side. Nice father/son story though.

Although I didn't like these stories nearly as much as last week, I was still entertained. Hill definitely inherited some storytelling ability, and I think he will turn out to be a fine writer some day!!

Now....I'm off to get some sleep!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Challenge....342,745 Ways to Herd Cats

OK. I know what you are thinking. What in the world is going through her head?? You weren't thinking that? Maybe it was just me.....but I'll tell you. Peer Pressure is a bitch! I caved!! So much for finishing the challenges I already started before signing up for a new one!!

But this one has a fun title, a cute picture, and to be honest.....a really cool idea!! It feels very reminiscent of the Something About Me Challenge I participated in last year.

Anyhoo, here's the deal:

Renay from Bottle of Shine is hosting this fun challenge!! (the tl;dr stands for Too Long, Didn't Read, in case you are wondering!) Here are the "Rules".

1. Make a list of ten books you love. That's the only qualification; you had to love (or at least like it) the books on the list. Ten books, a list full of ♥
2. Share the list. (Renay is on LJ, so I suggest going to the Challenge post and reading her instructions on how to sign up)
3. Browse the lists created by our other members, collected here: reading lists! There will also be a master list of books available when people actually makes their lists.
4. Read at least three books recommended by others between May 1st - November 30th, 20082. Of course, more is fine! Encouraged, even!
5. Write reviews of the books you read! As long as folks are reading from our collection of lists, I'll continue collecting those reviews in our account, until the very last second of November 30th. 6. Share the links to your reviews for the challenge by using one of the steps listed in #2.

So....I've thought about the ten books I'm choosing. They are probably already on the master list, but I don't care!!

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (my very favorite of all books!)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (probably my next favorite book!)
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (My introduction to the Wonderful World of Gaiman)
  • The Stand by Stephen King (This is my very favorite King and it wouldn't be a favorites list with him)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak (such a wonderful book. Of course, I can't imagine anyone out there that HASN'T read it yet!)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer (such a strange book, but I loved it!)
  • The Little Country by Charles de Lint (this is the book that started me down that long road of fantasy reading)
  • Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan (I dare you not to love this book!)
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (one of the best YA books I've ever read)
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (such a weird, but uber-cool book!)

That's my list....and I'm sticking to it!! No wonderful I'm so weird. Just look at my favorite books!! Of course, I could have added 10 more without batting an eye.

Now...I'm not picking the books I'm actually READING yet. Not a chance. Because once I do, someone else will just add more books to the list. Then I'll just keeping adding more books, and the endless cycle will never stop!!

How about you guys? Game for another challenge?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Harry Potter in the News Again

Have you been reading about the latest troubles for Harry Potter? J. K. Rowling has been in court all week, suing for copyright and trademark violations over the publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon, an A - Z companion to the novels. In this article from the Guardian, J. K. Rowling explains why she is so upset over this book: "Rowling and Warners argue that publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon, an A-Z companion to the novels from RDR Books, infringes her copyright. Rowling adds that the Lexicon would pre-empt plans for her own Potter encyclopedia, the proceeds of which she would donate to charity - though she is unwilling to say when such a work would be written or published."

Now, I'm not an author. If I was, I, too, would probably be upset over someone else trying to cash in on MY work. And face it. There are lots of people that would love to cash in on a bit of the Harry Potter bucks.

But I have to say, I actually feel a bit sorry for Steven Vander Ark. Mr. Vander Ark is the epitome of a fan. He loves Harry Potter. In 2000, he created a Harry Potter Lexicon fansite. A fansite that Rowling herself gave a "fansite award" to. In fact, she admitted "that she sometimes used it to check facts while writing. Vander Ark received a note from Scholastic thanking him for the assistance the site provided in the editing of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Warners also flew him to the UK premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." But when RDR books announced they were taking the fansite and publishing it, the lawsuits started flying.

Aren't there lots of books out there that use the Harry Potter name? If you look on Amazon, there are tons of books that are 'references' to the Harry Potter books. And I don't see Rowling suing any of them. Maybe it's me....but for some reason this bothers me. Steven Vander Ark is a huge FAN of the books. He loves Harry Potter. The poor guy was in tears in court. (For the record, he isn't being sued, RDR books is). In a second article in the Guardian, Vander Ark says, "It's been ... it's been," he stammered, barely able to talk. "It's been difficult because there has been a lot of criticism, and that was never the intention."

There has been a lot of criticism, much of it from Rowling herself who laid into Vander Ark in her evidence. If you had been accused, as Vander Ark was on Monday, by the creator of a series of books that had dominated your life for the past nine years, of laziness, sloppiness, inaccuracy, plagiarism, theft, pilfering and plundering, wouldn't you burst into tears?

Like I said, I feel rather bad for the guy. I do understand Rowling wanting to maintain Harry Potter's integrity. He is, after all, her creation. But this really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Short Story Monday (on Tuesday...Again!) 20th Century Ghosts

Yes, I'm off by a day. Sorry. I worked a lot of hours this weekend, and spent a majority of my Monday sleeping! And frankly, I needed a little time to process what I read. For the Once Upon a Time II challenge, I choose Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts (336 pgs. William Morrow). I was trying to find a book that would fit in the "Folklore" subcategory and I figured ghost stories would fall here. And I've been really anxious to read this collection every since I found out who Joe Hill really is. As you all know, I'm a HUGE Stephen King fan.....and since Uncle Steve is Joe Hill's father (his real name is Joseph Hillstrom King), I wanted to see if any talent rubbed off. You know, the whole 'nature vs. nurture' theory. Whatever the reason, Joe Hill seems to be amazingly talented!!

The first story in this collection is called Best New Horror. It's the story of a man named Eddie Carrol. Eddie has spent close to 20 years editing the anthology, America's Best New Horror. After years of reading horror stories, it seems that Eddie has become a bit desensitized. Nothing is new anymore, and nothing is scary. Until the day he received a submission called Buttonboy. The story was sent by a professor from a small university. He had been the editor of the school's literary review when a part-time handyman had asked him to read a story. The story was incredibly good, although the subject matter was extremely disturbing. It was included in the review, but the backlash from the readers was intense. The professor no longer edited the publication, but felt that it should be included in Carrol's anthology. When Eddie started reading it, he couldn't put it down. And he knew he had to include it in his collection. That's where the trouble began: trying to track down the author. What he finds is much more disturbing than the story itself!

20th Century Ghosts is the tale of the Rosebud Theater and it's ghostly inhabitant. The Rosebud Theater is the last of a dying breed. It's an old-time movie house in the days of the multi-plexes, and it's having financial problems. Then there is also the little problem of it's "ghost". Imogene Gilchrist was a huge movie fan. She loved movies. During the opening of The Wizard of Oz in 1939, Imogene had a brain aneurysm and died at the Rosebud. But even death can't keep her away from the movies!

Pop Art has to be one of the strangest short stories I have ever read. And yet, it was utterly fantastic. It's about a boy and his best friend, Art. Art is an inflatable boy. (Yes, I do realize how weird that sounds) Art couldn't talk, but he kept a notepad around his neck. He would write with crayons whenever he wanted to communicate. He had to be really careful around sharp objects (obviously). It seems the life span of an inflatable person isn't all that long. In school, Art was teased endlessly and kicked around often. Until he met a friend. And the two of them became best friends.

This story is so unique and touching. I'm still not sure it's fits with the theme of ghosts, but I'm sincerely glad it was included. Art has a unique voice and is wise beyond his years. For example, they were discussing the number zero, and the fact that someone had to invent the idea of zero. Art said, "Because it isn't obvious -- that nothing can be something. That something which can't be measured or seen could still exist and have meaning. Same with the soul when you think about it." Who writes like that?? Beautiful. I wish I could do an ounce of justice to this story. But I can't. My best advice to you would be to read it!!

As for the other stories, they were great!! It seems that Joe Hill did indeed inherit some talent from Papa King. However, Joe has a voice all his own. And it's fabulous. Best New Horror is a cross between Deliverance and Hostel!! Really fun, unique Horror story. 20th Century Ghosts was a throwback to days of Twilight Zone episodes!! A little surreal, a little sad....and a lot sweet. What else can I say about Pop Art. It was wonderful. It was about bigotry and differences; love and hate; friendship and acceptance; and finally, death. And I honestly wish it was later in the book, because I can't see how Mr. Hill can top that one!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I just Heart My Library!

I do. I really love my library. At the beginning of the year, they switched library systems and upgraded everything. Now, it just so easy to use. I can even do it from home. I can log on, check my holds, renew my books, and even request books. (But nothing actually beats walking through the doors and seeing all the books on the shelves. Yes, I know. I'm a geek. Sue me.)

So last week, I was trying out the new system, and thought I would try to place holds on books outside our library. I have used the Inter-Library Loan system for quite awhile now. But before the upgrade, I had to physically hand a list of books I wanted to the reference librarian and he would search for the books and request them. Now I can do all that myself.

On Monday, I got a call that a book was in for me. And Tuesday, I got a call that a couple of books came in for me. By Thursday, 7 books had arrived for me!! Yeah, I don't really do anything in moderation. It seems to be a problem for me!!

So....I have this stack of books to try to get through in the next month:

  • Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint
  • Trader by Charles de Lint
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler
  • Generation X by Douglas Coupland
  • 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
  • Quicksilver by Neil Stephenson

Plus the books I checked out from my own library:

  • Tithe by Holly Black
  • Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
  • The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
  • Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • The Puppet Masters by Robert Heinlein

And finally....the book I special ordered from Barnes & Noble: The Wood Wife by Terri Windling.

Sheesh. I need to have my head examined. But now I have a whole world of books at my fingertips!! Gotta love it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Magical Journey.....

One of the best reasons for joining a challenge is to find a wonderful book. A book that moves you, touches you, makes you laugh and cry. A book that, at the end of the day, will leave you feeling better than before you read it. And that's exactly what happened when I read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (370 pgs, Harper Perennial) for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge. Because of the different "Quests", I listed Neverwhere as just a fantasy book of any sub-genre. Truthfully, it IS hard to categorize. Urban fantasy is how it's listed. But this book is way more than "just" a fantasy novel.

Richard Mayhew was a young man in London. He had a rather ordinary life.....a job in securities, a fiancee that dragged him to lots of galleries, a rather plain little flat. Everything was remarkably ordinary. Until the night he found the girl lying on a sidewalk....bleeding. He was supposed to be having dinner with his fiance's boss, but the good Samaritan in him took over. He couldn't just leave this young girl. So against Jessica's wishes, he picked up the girl and took her home with him. And so began his troubles.....

The girl's name was Door, and she was an "Opener". She could open anything that was locked, open doors to anywhere, and travel to different places through them. And she was being hunted by a pair of assassins. Door's family was murdered and she was on the run, trying to not only stay alive, but find out why her family was killed. But because Richard helped her, his life was turned upside-down. He ceased to exist in London. People looked by him and didn't see him. His job was gone, his apartment rented to other people. He had become part of London Below....the part of London where people who have "fallen through the cracks" go. A magical place that is filled with murderers, beasts, hunters, and angels. A place where your friend can be your enemy and a favor owed is priceless. A place where people talk to rats and the darkness is deadly. And Richard has to navigate through the Underground to help Door in the hopes that he can get his old life back.

What more can I say than I loved this book!! Neil Gaiman is truly a master at what he does. And that is weaving a story. I don't seem to be able to post about him without gushing! Each page I read brought me one step closer to this magical world. The cast of characters was long, but truly unique. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar were a couple of the scariest assassins ever to grace the pages of any novel. The Marquis de Carabas was arrogant and cunning....a shyster that traded favors, mostly to his own benefit. He was an enigma through most of the story and it was hard to see which team he was really playing for. The Angel Islington was beautiful and scary. And Richard. Richard grew up in this story and learned that he could do mighty things....for an ordinary kind of guy.

If you haven't read Neverwhere, I highly recommend it. It's funny, scary, fantastical and just an all-around exceptional read! It will probably go down as one of my favorite books!! And as I've stated in many posts, Neil Gaiman has certainly become one of my favorite authors!! 5/5

Also Reviewed by:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Find Your Magic, Farworld Blog Tour 2008

Anyone who has ever read this blog, knows my love for all things fantasy. I'm always looking for new books and authors to add to my ever-growing list of favorites! And today, I stumbled across J. Scott Savage's blog. Mr. Savage is a writer of the new YA Fantasy series, Farworld. Hmmm....YA and Fantasy. 2 of my favorite things! So when I started reading his blog, I was hooked!!

The first four books in the series will be based on the four elements: Water, Fire, Air and Earth. Sound cool? That's what I thought too!! And he's working with Shadow Mountain Publishing, which is a favorite of mine. They publish Brandon Mull and Jason F. Wright, as well.

For the release of the first book in the series, Mr. Savage is doing a huge blog tour, entitled Find Your Magic. For those of us bogged down in the realities of life, there is always a little room for some magic. And I, for one, am really excited!

Trip on over to the Find Your Magic blog and read all about the upcoming tour, and your chance to be a part of it!!

2008 Pulitzer Prizes

So...the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes were announced this week. I really don't pay much attention to the journalism ones. I know I should. But I really do feel the news is so biased anymore, I rarely read the papers anyway.

But I do read books. Duh. And the winner of the fiction award is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Now, I've heard good buzz about this one. But I haven't read it. And I'm curious. Have you read it?? Is it worth the effort?? Any opinions??

And the other 2 finalists. I haven't heard of either. Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson and Shakespeare's Kitchen by Lore Segal.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Ana!!

The Birthday Cookout was a success!! The weather was a wonderful 62 degrees, sunny and just a tad breezy. The above picture is Ana, Bella, and our neighbor Kaylee. The 3 of them spent the afternoon doing girlie things! Ana got lots of good stuff, ranging from books (yeah!) to Bratz to Barbies. Then we played softball (actually whiffle ball) and a little basketball. Girls against the boys, baby!!

And this is a picture of the kiddies and Uncle Aaron, my best friend. (See previous post!) All in all, it was a glorious day!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Man....switching shifts has played havoc on my sleep. I was up at 4:00 am this morning and couldn't sleep. Bummer. The thing is, I LIKE 3rd shift. The kiddies are sleeping. It's quieter at work, and I can get a lot done. And the downtime gives me a chance to read more.

But on the con side of things, I'm having trouble sleeping. In a perfect world, I would be able to come home and go right to bed. Sleep while the kiddies are at school, and wake up in time to pick them up and spend the rest of the day with them. But I'm not able to sleep when I get home. And when I do sleep, it's not a solid 6 - 8 hours at a time. Which is giving me some serious baggage under the old green eyes. I keep thinking my body will figure it out, and I'll adjust. But here I am, wide-awake when I should be sleeping.

Actually today, it's not so bad. Wednesday was Ana's birthday and I'm having a "family" party today. Family means our friends. Mike and I have a rather eclectic group of friends that we consider our family. There's Aaron, my best friend. He's the kids godfather. An actor, chef, drama queen and all-around phenomenal guy. Ana's godmothers....Pat and Dee. They are a couple, and have been together for 15+ years. (Hence the term "fairy" godparents. Their term, not mine!) Dave and Jeanette and their kids. Your typical all-American family. Troy, the professional poker player and all-around badass. Tony and Wendy, the couple that keeps getting together, breaking up, getting together. Gina and Angie, another couple. Gina's one of my best friends ever. Love her so much!! So, it's not your typical backyard bbq, but we all love and respect each other, and that's what's important.

Actually, what's important to me, as a parent, is to show my kids that there are differences in people...and it's not a bad thing. They don't "see" color the way some people do and I'm so proud of them for it. Chad's best friend has a black father, and so does Bella's best friend. Ana's best friend is Chinese. I've known people that are bigoted and it breaks my heart. Aaron and I have been out on more than one occasion, and get 'funny' looks from people that assume we are a couple. I hate that. There was a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar a few years back. And Aaron had one of the leads....Judas. He was amazing. I took Chad to see show. He was SO proud that his Uncle Aaron was the star....he just beamed. He told everyone around us at intermission that HIS Uncle Aaron was the Star. The lady sitting next to us said, " he an uncle by marriage?" I don't think she actually meant any offense by the statement, but it really bothered me. Does it matter that we look different? Certainly not to me. Aaron has been there for me in the worst of times, being the best friend he could possibly be. He loves me and my family unconditionally. THAT is important. Not the fact that he is black. Or gay. It just makes him unique.

Why am I off on this tangent? Who knows. Maybe sleep deprivation. I was watching something earlier on the election, and they were talking about Barack Obama and how it would be such a coup if a black man could be elected President. People, it's the year 2008. Surely we have gotten to a point in our culture that we should be able to look past color and pick the person that would be best for our country. But race is an issue. I don't know why Americans have to put that kind of spin on things. But we do. And it saddens me.

I was having trouble getting in touch with Aaron this week. He always bakes the birthday cakes for our parties, and I was worried. I finally talked to him yesterday and he already was trying to decide what to bake. I told him, I was afraid I was going to have to get a cake from Walmart this late in the game. He said, "Honey, there is NO way I'm letting my God-daughter eat a Walmart Cake for her birthday!" See why I love him so much??

Hopefully, I'll have some good birthday pics to post later. For now, I'm off to the grocery store, and maybe I'll get a little reading done before everyone shows up. I picked up Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman last night, and I'm in love already. Magical is the only way I can describe Gaiman.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

2007 Bram Stoker Awards

Horror has always been my favorite genre. Not sure why. I'm actually kind of chicken in real life. But since I was little, I have always loved books and movies that scare me. When I was in 7th grade, I picked up the book 'Salems Lot, and it started me down that dark and winding road. I'm always the first one in line for the latest Horror movie too. In fact, I started my brother on it as well. I used to take him to see scary movies when he was little (Luke is 12 years younger than I am). I figured he'd turn out really cool like me, or a serial killer. So far, so good!

On March 30th, they announced the winners of the 2007 Bram Stoker Awards:

The Missing by Sarah Langan

First Novel:
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Long Fiction:
Afterward, There Will Be A Hallway by Gary Braunbeck

Short Fiction:
"The Gentle Brush of Wings " by David Niall Wilson

Fiction Collection:
(Tie)Proverbs for Monsters by Michael A. Arnzen5 Stories by Peter Straub

Five Strokes to Midnight edited by Gary Braunbeck and Hank Schwaeble

THE CRYPTOPEDIA: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange & Downright Bizarre by Jonathan Maberry & David F. Kramer

Poetry Collection:
(Tie)Being Full of Light, Insubstantial by Linda AddisonVECTORS: A Week in the Death of a Planet by Charlee Jacob & Marge Simon

Lifetime Achievement Award:
John Carpenter, Robert Weinberg

Richard Laymon President's Award:
Mark Worthen, Stephen Dorato, Christopher Fulbright

I haven't actually read any of these. (Said brother still has my copy of Heart-Shaped Box!) But I guess I have a whole new group of books to add to my TBR list!!

How about you? Read any of these??

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Tale of Lifelong Friendship

I received the book Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (496 pgs, St. Martin Press) from Anna at The Book Report Network. I have never read a book by Kristin Hannah before and I'm glad she gave me the opportunity. Many thanks to Anna!! Since the book was released in February '08, I'm also using this book as the first in meeting my goal at The Pub '08 Challenge!

Tully and Katie. Katie and Tully. The two girls met in the summer of 1974, when they were both in 8th grade. Katie was from a normal, middle-class family. She wore glasses and braces and was basically a nobody at school. Her mom was constantly trying to get in her business and help her to make no avail. That is, until Tallulah Rose Hart, better known as Tully, moved into the house across the street. Tully was beautiful, destined to be the most popular girl in cool and confident. But looks can be deceiving because Tully was as insecure as they come. She was living with Cloud, the mother who had abandoned her twice before. The mother that was more interested in demonstrations and pot than her own daughter. Tully was always on edge, just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But one night, Katie and Tully started talking. From that moment, they were inseparable. Until Cloud once again took off, and Tully had to go back and live with her grandmother. But a best friend is a best friend, and even distance couldn't keep them apart.

As the years went by, the girls went to college and studied journalism. Tully wanted to be a star. The next national anchorwoman. And Katie. She really just wanted to find love. Through careers and life changes, the two women stayed friends. Best Friends Forever. Or one could hope.

When I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think I had read it before. Then it hit me. I saw the movie: Beaches. it wasn't exactly the same, but the theme was there. Although the writing was pleasant, the storyline is a tired one. One that has been done MANY times before.

And the characters of Kate and Tully. Very black and a world that is many shades of gray. Tully was selfish and self-centered. Thinking of her career and her career only. Even when she knew she was in love, she didn't think twice about throwing it away for her job. It didn't even make her think twice about stabbing her best friend in the back for ratings (good intentions aside, she had to know she was wrong). And Kate was just the opposite. She had a very good job, but didn't think twice about giving it up when she found a man to complete her. In today's world, women really can have both, and it kind of frustrates me when I read books like this.

For all of this, I didn't hate this book. I've just read it all before. It didn't stop me from reading it, and even being sad at the end (if you've seen Beaches, I'm sure you see where this is going). But in the words of Randy Jackson from American Idol, "Dude. It just didn't do it for me". 3/5
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